Computer-less

For those readers wondering where I’ve been: my trusty Macbook died two weeks ago after nearly 5 years.  Hopefully I will be getting a new laptop this week.  There is no Apple store in South Korea, but there are Mac Resellers.

In Daegu, check out Neptune in the Lotte Department Store (by 2.28 Memorial Park and Lotte Young Plaza).  It’s as close to an Apple store as you can get.

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Korean Scenery

The Korean Peninsula is covered with mountains.  As a result, most cities are in valleys and people live in tall high-rises.  Some people live in the country, however, and it is a sharp contrast from the concrete jungle.  The buildings and towns may be modest, but the views are not.  I’ve tried to capture these vistas with my camera, but I don’t do them any justice.  Still, I wanted to give my readers a glimpse of the Korean countryside – no apartment complexes to be seen.

Farm between Daegu and Busan
Rice paddies outside Daegu
Between Daegu and Gyeongju
Hanok (한옥), traditional Korean housing
Sunset near Gyeongju
Moonrise
More traditional housing in a farm village

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Delivery!

In Korea, you have to be very careful.  Not from the usual threats of crime or international peril, but from a much more dangerous hazard – delivery scooters.  Scooters are apparently exempt from all traffic laws (and a few laws of common sense).  Sidewalk? Fair game.  Stop sign? Just a suggestion.  Red light? Doesn’t count if you just honk your horn at full speed!

These fearless moronic men have an important job – delivering food to hungry Koreans.  It seems like every night, I return home from work to find my front door plastered with menus and ads.  As I absentmindedly flip through the booklets, my mouth begins to water.  I wish I could order food, I think.  How delicious and convenient. But alas…

Well, it’s been about three months and it finally felt like time to do something crazy.  Andy and I decided to try to order jjim dak (찜닭), a tasty Korean dish of chicken, glass noodles, and veggies in a sweet and spicy sauce.  Last month’s issue of the Daegu Compass (expat magazine) had a guide to order food… so I took a deep breath, dialed the number, and waited for the voice on the other end.  (For a copy of this guide, see the end of this post.)

Somehow, I managed to fumble through enough Korean to state my address and my order.  The man on the other end of the line was patient and actually understood me – to my shock and delight! Of course, we had no idea if the food was actually going to arrive…

A little while later, I got a call.  The delivery man wanted some clarification on our address.  It turns out I had mixed up the words for 1 and 2 (il and i, pronounced eel and ee), but after some massive confusion, we figured it out.  A knock on the door and our food had arrived!

Our Bounty

All in all, we got:
jjim dak, hanmari (한마리), (one chicken)
pickled radish, commonly accompanies chicken dishes and is delicious
a random bottle of Coke
4 sets of chopsticks… lol

Total cost: 19,000 won ($16.10).  That’s the price of the food – there’s no tipping in Korea.  Totally worth it considering it was delicious AND we have leftovers!

I am definitely going to order food again in the future.  When in Korea, right?

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Here’s a copy of the Daegu Compass guide.  Mine did not go 100% according to script, but it was certainly a good start.

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Camping at Geoje Island

Monday, May 28 was Buddha’s Birthday in South Korea.  It celebrates the date when Buddha came forward into this world, and is a federal holiday – meaning no work!

Rising to the occasion, I went camping with Andy and several of our friends.  We chose the less-frequented Geoje Island (거제도), two hours south of Daegu.  Geoje is the second-largest island in the ROK, after Jeju, and is home to most of Korea’s shipbuilding.  We spent a few weeks researching the locale, but little information was available on the internet.  Undeterred, we bought some bus tickets (and camping gear!) and were on our way.

Our group, sans Emily, the photographer from whom I stole this photo (left to right: me, Keir, Jenna, Claire, Andy, Deva)

We chose Gujora Beach as our campsite.  Gujora (구조라) is a sandy beach and is very close to a small town and harbor.  Possibly due to the holiday, the beach was very crowded during the day (with Koreans and foreigners alike), but at night it was mostly campers.  The Koreans all camped in a parking lot near the bathrooms, while the foreigners camped on the actual beach.  Wacky Koreans… We chose the wooded end of the beach, which was great for privacy and some scant shade in the daytime.  For firewood, we foraged through some construction site refuse.  All in all, I’d say it was pretty ideal.

Gujora Beach – we camped at the far end

The natural bay of Gujora Beach… the water was amazingly clear!
Tiny pink tent… my home away from home

After the first night, we trekked into the town to check out the boat schedules.  The boats fill up fast so I recommend buying tickets as soon as you arrive (this goes for the bus back to Daegu too).  We almost missed out on Oedo, but we were able to get some fancy tour in the nick of time.  At the harbor, there was a small seafood market with tables next to the water.  Across the road, there were many seafood restaurants as well.  Live seafood swam in tanks outside.

Oedo (외도), or Oe Island, is home to a large botanical garden.  It reminded me of the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa, although not quite as impressive.  The owners of the garden tried to infuse as much Mediterranean influence as possible, so the flowers and shrubs were overshadowed by Greco-Roman statutes, amphitheaters, columns, etc.  It was chaotic and crowded, but the views of the sea were absolutely gorgeous.  I think Oedo would be much more enjoyable on a less crowded day, when you have time to wander at your own pace.

A pair of stone birds on Oedo

Mediterranean-style church

Partial image of the grounds

Most of the trip was spent on the beach, relaxing around a fire and talking with friends.  It was a perfect weekend escape from Daegu.  I love seeing more of Korea – I’m constantly surprised by how beautiful it is.

 Check out a short video I made of the trip here.

For fellow expats, there is more detailed information after the jump.

Expat Info:

  • Buses to Geoje were available at the Dong-bu bus terminal in Daegu.  Each way cost 13,600.
  • There are a few buses you can take to Gujora.  22 and 67 are two off the top of my head, but there were others.  From Gujora you must walk through the town to access the beach.  We just plopped down a tent and were not bothered by anyone.
  • Ferries to Oedo are 16,000 + 8,000 for admission, but we got some kind of special package for 23,000 which included both.  Definitely try to get tickets ASAP because there was a crowd of miffed Koreans who missed out.  Same for the bus back to your home city… we bought the tickets as soon as we arrived and were almost unable to be accommodated – although we had 7 people in our party.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to comment.  I know we struggled with the lack of information in planning this trip, and I’m happy to provide some.

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